Colorado agency urges public to respect the “wild” in wildlife and give animals their space

There’s a reason they’re called wildlife. Colorado Parks and Wildlife is asking people to respect the wild animals they love to watch in the great outdoors can be unpredictable, especially this time of year when they have young ones.

The alert issued Friday was prompted by recent injuries to men, one in Steamboat Springs and one in Evergreen. Wildlife officials don’t believe the run-ins were caused by the men’s behavior, but said the encounters serve as reminders.

Female elk, moose and deer have newborn calves and fawns this time of year.

“Cows will be exhibiting normal protective behavior of their young,” said Wildlife Officer Tim Woodward. “Give wildlife extra space this time of year.”

Dogs should be kept on leases because they can trigger aggressive behavior in moose and elk, which will have a dog back to its owner, Woodward said in a statement.

The man injured in Steamboat Springs on May 29 was knocked on his back and stomped on by a cow moose with her two calves. The man said his dog was outside unleashed when he heard it start barking and realized there was a moose in the area. He stepped forward to grab the dog and the moose charged at him.

The man had minor injuries.

In Evergreen, there were reports of a cow elk charging people. A 90-year-old man injured his hip in the incident, although it’s believed there was no contact between the man and the elk. The man was taken to the hospital to be examined.

When people are outdoors for the next three or four weeks, they should keep their dogs on a leash or leave them at home, said Kristin Cannon, CPW’s deputy manager for the northeast region. “They should be aware of their surroundings and should give all wildlife plenty of space.”

Wildlife officials recommend steering clear of thick willows along streams or rivers, where moose often leave their calves to go eat.

Elk calves are typically born in spots with cover, forage and water together in late May or early June.

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